New Study: Kerry-Lieberman to Destroy Up to 5.1 Million Jobs, Cost Families $1,042 per Year, Wealthiest Americans to Benefit

Posted June 30, 2010 | folder icon Print this page

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham may no longer claim allegiance to the climate bill currently being debated in the Senate, but according to a new independent analysis released this week, the cap-and-trade proposal being advanced by Sens. Kerry and Lieberman does no better by the American consumer than previous iterations of the bill that bore his name.

In an effort to better understand the broad consequences of the Kerry-Lieberman American Power Act on the U.S. economy, the Institute for Energy Research commissioned Chamberlain Economics, L.L.C to perform an economic and distributional analysis of cap-and-trade portion of the proposal.

The following represent some of the study’s key findings:

  • The American Power Act would reduce U.S. employment by roughly 522,000 jobs in 2015, rising to over 5.1 million jobs by 2050.
  • Households would face a gross annual burden of $125.9 billion per year or $1,042 per household, with costs disproportionately borne by low-income households.
  • On a net basis, the top income quintile will benefit financially, redistributing to these households roughly $12.3 billion per year from the bottom 80 percent of earners.
  • Households over age 75 bear the largest burden at 2.3 percent of income, followed by households aged 65-74 and under age 25 at 2.1 percent. By contrast, the nation’s highest-earning households between age 45 and 54 years would bear the smallest percentage burden of just 1.5 percent.
  • Contrary to the legislation’s stated goal of reducing price volatility by excluding petroleum refiners from quarterly auctions, the Kerry-Lieberman bill is likely to significantly increase allowance price volatility from quarter to quarter, compared to an ordinary auction in which all covered industries bid for allowances.

At its core, the report examines the impacts that the American Power Act would have on the U.S. economy, the method by which emission allowances are distributed to corporations and the distributional cost of the bill on households by income, age group, region and family type. The authors also explore two specific propositions: the first, the potential for shareholders, and not consumers, to benefit from the distribution of free emission allowances; and, second, the expected consequences of the bill’s creation of a separate pool of allowances for petroleum refiners, thus adding to the price volatility of those allowances.  Both conclusions are contrary to Kerry and Lieberman’s stated intent of the legislation.

“One of the most basic criticisms of climate policy is its regressive impact on low-income households,” said Andrew Chamberlain, a co-author of the report and chief economist at Chamberlain Economics L.L.C. “The Kerry-Lieberman bill holds true to this by distributing most allowances freely to companies and government agencies for the purpose of securing political support for the bill’s passage. Aside from the distributional impact of the bill, Kerry-Lieberman suffers from serious flaws in its policy design. The bill’s exclusion of petroleum refiners from quarterly auctions—a provision designed to shield refiners from price volatility—is instead likely to have the opposite effect, increasing volatility faced by covered entities with no obvious economic or environmental benefit.”

“These numbers speak for themselves: 522,000 lost jobs in 2015, up to 5.1 million in 2050,” said Thomas J. Pyle, president of the Institute for Energy Research. “Promoting a policy that guarantees job loss and disproportionately impacts older Americans and those earning the least will have devastating consequences. Senators Graham, Lieberman and Kerry stated from the very beginning that their goal was to bring a coalition of big oil executives, Wall Street titans and environmental groups to the table – and that’s exactly what they did. Unfortunately, as this analysis shows, the one person that wasn’t at the table ends up footing the bill: the American consumer.”

To view the entire analysis, click here.

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